10 Essential Music Festival Etiquette Tips | Phoenix New Times

10 Essential Etiquette Tips for Music Festivals

Basically, don't be a dick and watch what happens.
Manners matter, y'all.
Manners matter, y'all. Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock
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Spring is upon us, which means it's festival season in Phoenix.

As veteran festivalgoers, we have seen so many scenarios at major music events: joyous smiles, blossoming love, overwhelming sadness, endless frustrations ... the list goes on. We've also seen people do things that made us want to slap them in the face and say, "Yo, what are you doing?"

Obviously, we can't walk around slapping people in the face at will. That is mean, aggressive, and illegal.

Of course, no one is perfect, and we're not here to judge or try to ruin anyone's fun.

However, music festivals can turn nice places into wastelands. No matter how many receptacles there are, trash always ends up left on the ground. No matter how many amazing people you connect with, there are always assholes. When you get thousands of people together, that's kinda inevitable.

But that doesn't mean we can't change.

Which is why we compiled a list of ways to positively contribute to your festival experience (and the experiences of others). Here are tips and suggestions regarding behaviors that very much annoy people — and how to avoid them.

Pick Up Your Trash

This should be a no-brainer to everyone who doesn't want the festival to look like a scene from Wall-E when the weekend is over. Actually, this should be a no-brainer to every single human capable of making a decision. When did anyone ever learn that it was cool to just leave your trash for someone else to pick up? Please help everyone out by keeping your waste and recyclables off the ground until you can find a place to properly dispose of them.

Say 'Excuse Me' When Moving Through the Crowd

One of the lamest experiences we've encountered is dealing with a large group of people who show up way late to a set and feel the need to physically push their way to the middle — even if that requires shoving right through you and your friends. Two thoughts here: Show up earlier to catch your favorite bands and get a spot you want, or just say "excuse me" when you are trying to pass through. Even if it's super-loud and all you can do is a friendly tap on the shoulder with a gesture to pass, that is so much more acceptable than pushing people (who showed up on time) out of the way. We're not trying to stop anyone from getting to where they want to be, but we also know there are better ways to treat strangers. Basically, don't be a dick and watch what happens.

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Patrons spotted at BOO! Arizona 2017.
Benjamin Leatherman

If You Are Really, Really Tall, Be Aware of That

We aren't in any way trying to criticize or ostracize any group of people with this statement. If you're tall, you're tall. But if you notice people who are more vertically challenged watching a performance, and it's obviously crowded when you arrive, please try to find a place to stand that is not directly in front of them. Especially when there is nowhere for them to go without committing the same foul.

Paint Your Face and Body, Wear Costumes

We absolutely support this. Why not kick it up a notch?

Patrons at FORM Arcosanti 2017.
Michelle Sasonov

Accept That You Have to Wait in Lines

It's just like Disneyland, folks. You want to get on the best rides, and sometimes you've gotta wait in line. Just be patient and do your best to be cool with everyone around you. It will be worth the wait. Oh, and be nice to the security folks. They are just doing their jobs. The nicer you are, the easier it is for everybody.

Listen While the Bands and DJs Are Performing

You came for a music festival right? So that means listening to music, and not talking through the performances and ruining the show for everyone in your vicinity with your blabbering. If you don't like the artist, no problem. Just find another place to have that life-changing conversation — ideally, in an area that's a respectful distance from fans who are there to actually listen.

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Keep it weird — but within reason.
Benjamin Leatherman

Know Your Limits

Just be aware enough, and don't get too fucked up. You don't want to get arrested or end up passed out in a port-a-john somewhere. Find your happy place and make sure to stay there.

Use the Port-a-John Correctly

Dudes, for goodness' sake, pee inside the urinal or lift the toilet seat. And last, but certainly not least, aim. It's not hard to actually use a toilet properly. No one wants to have to sit or hover over your nasty, misplaced urine — let alone be tasked with cleaning it up. It's just flat-out disgusting and shows a complete lack of regard for your peers who have to share this space with you. You wouldn't piss all over your bathroom at home (we hope), so please don't do it at the festival.

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The scene at one of Viva PHX's outdoor stages.
Alexandra Gaspar

Exit Courteously

This can be one of the most stressful times for festival attendees. People are trying to find their groups and not get left behind — and some of them might have partied a little too hard. On top of all that, security is trying to prepare for a mass exodus of extremely exhausted people who can't wait to get off the festival grounds to the comfort of their own bubbles again. Just remember, you are certainly not the only one who wants to leave, and being pushy and whiny never helps the cause. This is a great place to really practice creating mental space. Besides, you just saw a bunch of awesome music. Talk about your day, not how long the line is.

Embrace All the Feels

Music festivals can run the gamut of human emotion. Whatever you do, embrace all the feels and just allow yourself to be in the moment. You have planned a special time for yourself. Follow your instincts. If you have to cry, cry. If need to vent, find a way to do it without killing the vibe, and then move on. If you are losing your mind in happiness and joy, let your body follow whatever you are feeling. Just feel free and follow your heart entirely. Do you.

Editor's note: This article was originally posted in October 2017 and has been updated.
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